I was invited to speak at a beauty industry event called Beauty Focus on the subject of blogging. It was really good to have the opportunity to talk from the heart about what blogging means to bloggers, because what occurs to me is that while blogging is a hot topic, it is very rarely seen from the viewpoint of the actual blogger.
My slot followed two very interesting presentations about social media, which is a very good case in point. Everyone wants to talk about bloggers, how to engage with bloggers and how to target bloggers, but very rarely is there any consideration for the bloggers themselves. As we know, blogs are run on a very personal level that is completely alien to the majority of marketers, social media agencies and brands.
I think the PRs are getting their heads around it and doing what they do so well which is getting to know bloggers on an individual level, but everyone else likes to lump us all together as ‘the bloggers’. Robin Derrick, creative director of Vogue, recently said that PRs would become redundant because brands were making contact directly with their markets. God help us if this were true, because most bloggers will know that left to their own devices, brands manage to cause untold problems and bad feeling when they think they’re down with the kids and in reality they blunder through a ‘blog event’ with all the finesse of an elephant on ice.
Recent inbox activity shows that the address ‘Dear Blogger’ is still a popular method of initial engagement; they’d be astonished if we approached them with ‘Dear Social Media Attempt’. There’s a lot less of ‘we’ve created lots of fascinating content’ or ‘we’ve written this especially for you’ because I think people are finally grasping that we make our own fascinating content thank you and er, write our own blogs. I’m getting quite a lot of incoming mail about invitations for ‘exclusive blog events’ where a small number of ‘top’ bloggers only are invited. I’m not sure I like this. The joy of meeting bloggers who are at the beginning of their journeys who may not have racked up ‘top’ status is indeed that, a joy. Enthusiasm is infectious.
I was able to say that it’s our job to tell, not sell, and that we are under no obligation whatsoever to feature any brand, ever. The issue of control came up: I feel that what brands are forever trying to grasp is control of blogs. But the nature of blogging is such that there is none and they’re just going to have to get used to it. I don’t know what I’ll be posting about tomorrow, I don’t have a ‘forward plan’ for my blog and I don’t want to make millions from it. This concept is met with incredulity. But it is the free-flowing, mercurial nature of blogs that makes them so natural and easy for other make up lovers to engage with and so difficult for brands and social media agencies to grasp. It is simply not possible to ‘control’ beauty bloggers.
Overall, I felt the focus on how to engage with bloggers or to use blogs to best effect (for the brand of course) still doesn’t take into account the emotional aspect of blogging which can be very strong. There is no clue about the backstories – a new mum blogging while the baby sleeps, a busy exec. making precious time to blog for fun, bloggers who would love to find a way into the beauty industry and can showcase their commitment via a blog, or people like me who use their blogs as an overspill for products they’re desperate to write about but can’t find the print space for them. We’re names and numbers and nothing more.
Overall, it needs to be clearly understood that bloggers are highly individual, and every blog has a different way of operating and a unique reason for being in the blogosphere. Understand that, and you are part way to being heard.
Obviously, I cannot speak for all bloggers, but what I could do was point out what irks me and how it feels to be at the sharp end of a social media explosion where link exchanges, offers of product and attempts to sway my opinion comprise the bulk of my BBB email account.
Anyway, I didn’t fall flat on my face walking up to the podium, I didn’t grip the podium so hard it fell to pieces in front of everyone and I didn’t accidentally swear – none of the fears that have kept me awake at night happened. Whew!
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
YAY FOR YOU. Speaking up for us little (new) bloggers. I’m highly opinionated and my blog is my hobby not a money making machine.
Fantastic post 🙂 Well said, glad you didnt go flyin on the way up to the podium 🙂
From this post it seems like you did a great job, especially pointing out the personal nature of blogs.
I find the backstory can often hugely affect the content and style of a blog. For example, I found blogs and started writing one after I’d been ill and housebound for 2 years and didn’t have the same access to beauty counters as I had previously. I have no ‘master plan’ for my blog, my only aim is for it to be helpful to others, especially if they may be in a similar situation to myself. As you say, bloggers have so many diffrent reasons and aims for their blogs, making it much harder to lump us all together.
Congratulations on giving what sounds like an excellent and informative talk (I have similar fears whenever I have to do public speaking)!
I love this post! As a Freelance Writer, I’m constantly trying to persuade companies that blogging and bloggers are the way forward in promoting their products and services, but they really seem to hate the fact that we’re not going to write what they tell us to, that we have our own opinions and that we really will be honest!
I always read your blog, it’s such great inspiration, but this time I just had to comment. I couldn’t agree more than on what you have just written. I completely share you’re experience, and congratulations on standing up and getting your point out. And congrats on a well done public performance.
Very well observed and said, as always, lovely BBB. You’re a great representative for our ‘little’ community, thanks for being so honest and passionate as well as never forgetting about the principles even though you’re definitely one of the ‘top bloggers’. x
I completely agree with you. The quality blogs are exactly as you describe and we read them because we recognize that excellence and it resonates. So bravo, to you and all the dedicated bloggers:)
I really enjoyed reading this Jane. I think that you are agreat ambassador for any blogger, fledgling or fully in flight (couldn’t think how to finish that analogy, not sure that is right now!). I especially took note from the “I don’t have a forward plan for my blog” as I agree that my spontaneous posts are often the most enjoyable both to write and to read back. Thanks for putting so eloquently what I think and feel. Jan x
Fab post and well done for standing upright! x
Terrific post and thank you for speaking so well on behalf of us bloggers, specially the newbies like me! In “real” life I work on a magazine and the divide between editorial and advertising (my dept.) is a very strongly defended one, our editorial team are reviewing very expensive items of machinery so that our readers can make an informed choice and even then readers suspect some kind of bias. The really great thing with blogs is that no such bias exists because bloggers don’t need PR’s and Brands to exist; they can write what they like about anything they wish and there will always be readers. In fact the only blogs that I have been turned off of are those who make it clear they have been sent a product to review, have clearly hated it and are struggling to find a way of not saying that! Its the ungovernability of bloggers that make blogs the fantastic things they are. Group hug!
This is so well written, oh and well done for not swearing or falling flat on your face :o)
The brand/blogger relationship still seems to be developing as some companies are only just now engaging with social media.
Many will get it wrong without even realising, but my response now is to politely tell them that it’s impossible to review a beauty product or restaurant without actually trying it. Some don’t bother emailing back but others get it and make more effort.
It’s a two-way street – good access to a brand and the necessary samples matched with a well-written, objective review and everyone’s happy.
The best beauty bloggers tend to be the slight mavericks who, as you say, tell not sell. The best PRs understand this and go with it. Great post xx
They couldn’t have chosen anybody better to speak. You have spoken for every single one of us and I for one appreciate it so much.
Theres no way I could have got up there and did what you did. I would have fell…. guaranteed! then got up, tried to speak and nothing would have came out!
Well done Jane.
Oh by the way… I just spotted your new Fabulosity list. I wanna be on there missis! 😛
Yay! I love what you’ve said here. I also love that you were able to point out that bloggers are highly individual and that they’re not to be controlled by companies.
it was a pleasure to listen to your presentation at Beauty Focus and I was so intrigued that I am now following your blog!!!
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Brilliant Jane, simply brilliant! I agree and were it not for the enthusiasm of the blogging & Twitter community, I’d still be just a makeup artist and not have come in contact with the amazing people I’ve met and chatted to. thansk fo rthis post, trully fascinating and hopefully it give s a clearer picture as to what blogging is and what bloggers do. X
Excellent post, really well written! I think there’s so much assumed about blogging by big brands, that it’s really important they get to know this stuff.
What a fab fab fab post. I applaud you to have spoken of us so highly and to try to communicate what a blog actually means and its very personal nature.
Excuse this small and poor comment from me, there are so many things I want to say, I’ve actually debated whether it was better for me to comment on here or write a response post to this. I don’t have the words to write it, it will take me days to try to articulate something which makes sense, so please excuse this shabby response
“finesse of an elephant on ice” –> this made me laugh, bwhahaha xx
“Recent inbox activity shows that the address ‘Dear Blogger’ is still a popular method of initial engagement” –> well, I have mixed views about this.
Whilst, of course, obviously I would have preferred an individually addressed email, if one day I receive an email like this, I would be pretty chuffed with myself, that a company/brand or a PR has seen my blog so I am so not going to complain that they called me ‘blogger’. In my young history of blogging, and because I am so crap (I am not asking for sympathy here, I am just stating a fact lol) and my blog is so small, I’ve only been noticed and approached once. It was Aussie and that gave me such a boost, especially as I was a genuine massive fan of the brand. That was the only time interest was made and since then, I had no other further interest, and not even one email saying ‘dear blogger’. I tell you if I get one ‘dear blogger’, I’ll be pretty chuffed with myself 🙂
“invitations for ‘exclusive blog events’ where a small number of ‘top’ bloggers only are invited”. <-- How do small bloggers feel about this? Even more unsignificant that they already feel. They feel rubbish, they feel they don't blog enough, they feel their google friend connect (which is just a number after all but which still matters) is not high enough. They feel their content is rubbish. God help small bloggers. If it wasn’t for the absolute ray of sunshine provided by the comments of their readers and the amount of views they see they get on their sitemeter/analytics, then we might just as well give up right now. Thank you for representing us, beginners, small, big, medium, and each and everyone of us bloggers 🙂 GO US! xx
Wonderful post – first time I’ve read your blog and I’ll def be back for more. You’ve even inspired me to consider starting my own!
Nice post.. =)
I know some companies give bloggers stuff then expect them to say ONLY good things about the brand, regardless if it’s true. They expect blog posts to sound like advertisements but they forget something.. You have to pay a big sum for advertisements but you only give a small bottle or two to bloggers. Yet you still expect to get the same result? Also, advertisements are meant to promote the product so obviously they only say the good things but blogs are the blogger’s personal opinions. You can’t expect us to lie (unless you’re giving me a million bucks or it’s labelled as advertisement) =P